Not long ago, I wrote about an upcoming healthy fast food salad bistro restaurant that Dave Rose is planning on opening in the future. Dave was really excited (and persistent) about getting the word out, and I thought it sounded like a great idea. It didn't stop there, though! After writing about the restaurant plans and Kickstarter campaign, we were contacted again about having a special food blogger dinner so we could actually try some of the menu items. I was excited that we would be able to experience the food that he will offer, since he is in the beginning stages of raising money for the restaurant at this point.
We ended up meeting at Dave's parents' restaurant, Mark's NW Table, which is located in Gresham. The three of us work nearby, so it was cool to be introduced to a restaurant that we hadn't tried before (we only rarely get to go out to lunch during the school year--only on teacher planning days). The restaurant is closed on Mondays, so we had the place to ourselves. We started by introducing ourselves, and Dave gave us background about himself and his family and his vision for the restaurant. As it turns out, he actually attended the middle school where the three of us work! Small world!
What struck me the most about this dinner was how genuinely nice Dave is. He has a great idea, and he has clearly been doing his research by looking at other similar restaurants in other cities, but he doesn't come across as arrogant or "schmoozy." He is trying to gain publicity and raise money, but he isn't a typical salesman-type guy. He seems sincere, driven, humble and family-oriented. We also got to meet his wife, Page, and his adorable son, and he talked about testing out the salads on his other two kids at home as well. Not to mention, he seems to have close ties with his extended family.
Our dinner began with homemade vegan minestrone soup and warm bread. Dave believes that this will be an everyday staple in the salad bistro, because when he has tested out this soup against other soup recipes, everyone seems to like this one best. It was hearty, full of vegetables (Dave got the veggies at the farmers' market), and delicious. It was amazing to me how something so simple was so great. I was already starting to feel a little full before we even got our main course salads.
When I originally heard about the type of salad we would be trying, I was intrigued. It was the Indian-inspired salad, and I wasn't sure how I would feel about it. I think Dave made a great choice in serving us this particular salad, because no one had had anything quite like it before. It had golden beets, cauliflower, quinoa (something I had decided I didn't like, but I think he has changed my mind in small quantities), mixed greens, just the right amount of homemade dressing, spices, nuts, and chicken. There was so much going on, but it all worked together so well. I also liked that the salad was served in metal bowls, although others at the table disagreed with me. They thought the salad should be served in white bowls to make the colors stand out more. Another person didn't care for the clinking of the fork on the bowl. I suggested perhaps wooden bowls would showcase the salads better, but someone pointed out that might be too difficult to clean. In any case, almost everyone said that they probably wouldn't have chosen the Indian salad as their first choice from a menu, but that it was fantastic and they were so glad that they got to try it (and would love to eat it again!) This was another case of me being so happy to be forced to try something outside of my comfort zone because it ended up being so great! You can tell that Dave puts a lot of effort into making such a simple meal (soup, salad and bread) into something that feels like a gourmet treat. All of the ingredients were fresh, healthy, and local.
I asked Dave what kind of desserts he planned to offer at the upcoming restaurant, wondering whether they would fit into the healthy fast food theme. I don't know about you, but I have not had much luck with "healthy" desserts. Well, Dave likes the idea of offering frozen yogurt, which I personally love, but he also has something else as a possibility. Although it is not really healthy, it is something that is fresh and local--mini pies. His mom and sister have been experimenting with making mini pies to sell at Mark's NW Table, and they just happened to leave a few for us to try for dessert. Um, these mini apple pies were AMAZING (they also have made peach and berry pies from farmers' market fruit)! The crust was perfectly moist and flaky, and they were just so delicious. If he does end up offering them at his restaurant, there will be people coming in just for these pies. They were that good!
Dave has transitioned to a vegetarian diet himself, so he plans to offer vegetarian versions of all of his salads (with the option of adding protein, including tofu). It also sounds like he will have three varieties of soup daily, with the minestrone always being a staple. Although Dave isn't sure if the Kickstarter will end up providing the funds he needs (because he is trying to raise such a large sum of money and it is on a short time frame), he is committed to trying to find a way to make his dream come true to open the salad bistro. Based on the dinner that we experienced, I believe that this restaurant will be a great one! I can't wait until it opens and I can try all of the salads (and the Happy Hour menu he has promised!)
To find out more or get in touch with Dave, here is his contact information: